Hajarayn, Did It Exist before Islam?

Frantsouzoff Sergei A.

The persecution of South Arabian Christians by the Jewish king of Himyar Yosef As’ar Ath’ar in AD 523 is usually associated with the inhabitants of the oasis of Najrån. However, in the table of contents of the Syriac hagiographic work known as the «Book of the Himyarites» there are some references to the martyrs who suffered in Hadramawt from the same ruler. In one of those contexts the editor managed to restore the name of [Ha]gareyn, which he proposed to identify with the town of al-Hajarån/al-Hajarayn localized in the lower reaches of the wåd• Daw’an, in the western part of inland Hadramawt, and mentioned first by the Moslem scholar al-H$asan al-Hamdån• in the early 10th century AD. Another form of the same toponym, Hagar#yne, may be attested in a fragmentary Ethiopic inscription (RIE 195 II) originated in Marib and connected with the victorious campaign of the Aksumite king Kaleb against the king Yosef. Nevertheless in South Arabian epigraphic documents there is no mention of this town. Therefore Christian Robin tried to interpret Hagareyn/Hagarəyne as a transcription of the Sabaic common noun hgr-nhn the «two towns» and to identify it with Nashqum and Nashshån situated in the region of al-Jawf. The detailed analysis of the sources from the historical and linguistic points of view demonstrates that this identification can not be accepted. In all probability, in the early 6th century AD the town of Hagarayn/Hajarayn existed in Hadramawt and there was a Christian community in it.

Keywords: islam, Hajarayn, Syriac hagiographic, «Book of the Himyarites»